Stress triggers a cascade of events in the body so it can respond to a threat.
Stress can come from anywhere at any time. It can occur in a brief episode, like almost getting hit by another car, or it can occur over the long-term, like worrying about paying bills, constant worry about things around you, your work, your family or a stressful relationship.
The stress response is complex and involves several parts of the brain, as well as hormones from the adrenal glands.
Together, these coordinate a response that impacts the entire body.
Cortisol is one of the major stress-response hormones produced by the adrenal glands.
Extra cortisol is produced during a stressful situation. That's worth repeating - EXTRA CORTISOL IS PRODUCED DURING STRESSFUL SITUATIONS.
This extra cortisol mobilizes energy resources, causing blood sugar levels to increase, and it then increases the appetite to help replenish those spent resources.
Cortisol levels fluctuate but when they are continuously high, such as occurs with chronic stress, the increased appetite can lead to over-eating and unnecessary weight gain, as well as unhealthy blood glucose levels.
An individual who has a higher ratio (more DHEA than cortisol) seems to experience less negative effects from the same stressors than a person who has a lower ratio (less DHEA than cortisol).
How well do you manage stress?
Stress is unavoidable. In acute stress – the response lasts only as long as the danger persists and then the body quickly returns to normal.
During long-term, chronic stress, however, such as occurs when dealing with daily stress at work or school, the stress response is triggered but it does not end. The body can’t return to normal. Over time, this pattern of activation and deactivation of body systems that accompanies the stress response throws off the body’s natural balance.
This is why chronic stress is devastating to your health!
Body systems that are perpetually hyper-activated, like the cardiovascular system, can begin to collapse, while body systems that are perpetually suppressed, like the immune system, leave you vulnerable to disease because they can’t function fully.
Therefore, managing stress is critical to good health! Avoiding stress when you can, eating nutritional foods, drinking lots of water, and getting regular exercise and restful sleep are valuable strategies to reduce and cope with stress.
Because physical and emotional stress can potentially interfere in the body’s natural production of DHEA, supplementation may help maintain healthy levels of DHEA during these times by counteracting the effects of the stress hormone cortisol.
If you’re currently in a high-stress period, DHEA supplementation may make sense to build up your reserves.